On Saturday before the Alabama game, LSU’s Leonard Fournette was riding high. He was the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy, and had run roughshod on the vaunted SEC and others, rushing for 1,383 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Then came the game against Alabama, and Fournette’s performance was lackluster at best, with 19 rushes for 31 yards and an inconsequential touchdown. Some people say that it looked like Fournette had something on his mind that game, that his focus was slightly off (besides the fact that Alabama’s defense shut down anything and everything LSU had).
Well, it has come out now that LSU has reportedly launched an investigation into whether a short-lived website built around Fournette’s catchphrase, BUGA Nation, constituted an NCAA violation.
According to various news sources, LSU has hired attorney Bob Barton to investigate the website, which was funded by Fournette’s family and Paul Price, the family’s manager. It has been stated that the site sold memorabilia with the “BUGA Nation” phrase. However, it did not explicitly feature Fournette himself. The website ceased selling the memorabilia within 24 hours of its launch, which coincided with the opening week of the 2014 season.
If a violation is to be found via this investigation, it could really hurt Fournette, as well as LSU, as he could be suspended. The NCAA bylaws specifically states players, family members and associates are prohibited from profiting from a student-athlete’s likeness. Even if Fournette was not directly named anywhere on the website, the “BUGA Nation” phrase is a matter of semantics; it’s the equivalent of Brian Bosworth selling items with “The Boz”, but not mentioning his name.
Now, because he’s just two years removed from his high school graduation, Fournette would have no recourse if he’s stripped of his eligibility, and he would not be able to enter the NFL draft until 2017.
You have to feel bad for Fournette if something were to happen and the hammer drops, as once again, greed is a major reason by family members trying to make a buck off their famous namsake and/or catch phrase.